Montana Rental Laws

Written on June 1, 2018 by

This article summarizes some key Montana Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

Official Rules, Regulations, and Guide

Details

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: No statute.
  • Security Deposit Interest: No statute.
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute.
  • Non-Refundable Fees: No. Any fees for cleaning or damages is considered part of the security deposit (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-101(4))
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: If there are no damages, the landlord must return the security deposit within 10 days, via mail to an address provided by the tenant or the tenant’s last known address (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-202(1))
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: The landlord must provide the tenant with a written list of any damages, cleaning charges, and unpaid rent within 30 days of the tenancy’s termination. The list must be accompanied with payment of the difference between the charges and the security deposit. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-202).
  • Permitted Uses of the Security Deposit: Deductions can be taken from the security deposit to pay for unpaid rent, late charges, unpaid utilities, “penalties due under lease provisions,” any other money owed to the landlord, as well as the cost of cleaning expenses, “including a reasonable charge for the landlord’s labor” (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(1)). Cleaning charges cannot be conducted until written notice is given to the tenant specifying the cleaning not done and still needs to be done in order for the premises to be brought to the condition in which it was originally rented. For more details, see Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(3).
  • Receipt of Security Deposit: No statute.
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute.
  • Failure to Comply: Landlords who do not provide such a list to the tenant forfeit their right to withhold any part of the security deposit (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-203).

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Rent is due, without demand or notice, at the beginning of the month and must be paid in monthly installments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
  • Payment Methods: Rent can be paid via check or electronic funds transfer to a bank account designated for rent payments (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-201(2)).
  • Rent Increase Notice: There is no specific statute regarding rent increases. However, Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311 allows landlords to adopt “a rule concerning the tenant’s use and occupancy of the premises.” If such a rule is adopted after a rental agreement is created between a tenant and a landlord, the landlord must provide 30 days’ written notice before the rule takes effect. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-311)
  • Late Fees: No statute.
  • Application Fees: No statute.
  • Prepaid Rent: No statute.
  • Returned Check Fees: A person who issues a bad check or electronic funds transfer is liable to pay a fee no greater than $30, and the payee to whom the check or payment is made out to can also pursue damages. For more details, see Mont. Ann. Code §§27-1-717(2)(3).
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes. If a landlord does not provide water, heat, electricity, gas, or other services, whether by negligence or on purpose, the tenant may provide written notice to the landlord, procure their own utilities, and deduct the costs from the monthly rent (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-408). Tenants who pursue this course of action cannot terminate the rental agreement, obtain damages and obtain injunctive relief, as stipulated in Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406(2), for any noncompliance by the landlord.
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes. Tenants can perform repairs that do not cost more than one month’s rent and deduct the cost from rent, provided that the tenant has given the landlord written notice and the landlord has not made the repairs (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-406). Tenants who live in a one-, two-, or three-bedroom residence may also reach agreements, in writing, with their landlords allowing the tenant to perform “specified repairs, maintenance tasks, alterations, or remodeling” so long as the landlord is not evading their obligations. For more details, see the statute. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-303)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees:  Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-427)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Re-rent: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-426(3))

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is required as the lease simply expires.
  • Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More: No statute.
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: 30 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: 7 days’ written notice (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-441).
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: No statute.
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: Either the landlord or tenant may request that the rental unit be inspected within one week of the tenancy’s expiration (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-25-201(2)).
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: The landlord may terminate the rental agreement once three days have passed since providing written notice of the tenant’s failure to pay rent when it is due. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422(2)).
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Landlords can evict tenants for having an unauthorized pet or unauthorized people living in the unit, as well as for damaging the unit. For more details regarding specific violations and notice times, see (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-422).
  • Required Notice before Entry: Landlords must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises and may not “abuse the right of access” to harass a tenant. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): Yes, but the landlord must give at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the premises. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: Yes, no notice is required during an absence of the tenant in excess of 7 days or more. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-426(2))
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No statute.
  • Lockouts Allowed: Tenants cannot remove, replace, or add locks that are not supplied by the landlord without the landlord’s written permission. If the tenant does remove and change the lock, the tenant must supply the landlord with a key (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-312). If the tenant does not supply a key, the landlord may terminate the rental agreement (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-33-424). The law also prohibits landlords from changing the locks or adding new locks to keep the tenant out (see: Landlord-Tenant: Know the Rules–Montana Department of Justice).
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: Landlords are prohibited from shutting off any utilities as a means to forcing a tenant to vacate the premises, pay unpaid rent, and so on. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-428)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Name and Addresses: The landlord, or whomever else enters into a lease agreement with a tenant must provide the tenant, in writing, the names and addresses of the people authorized to manage the rental unit and the unit’s owner, or the person authorized to act on the owner’s behalf. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-301)
  • Copy of the Lease: No statute.
  • Domestic Violence Situations: No statute.
  • Early Termination Rights: No statute.
  • Proof of Status: No statute.
  • Landlord’s Duties: (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-303)
    • Compliance: Landlords must comply with the requirements of all applicable building and housing codes that materially affect the health and safety of tenants; may not knowingly allow any tenant or other person to engage in any activity on the premises that creates a reasonable potential that the premises may be damaged or destroyed or that neighboring tenants may be injured;
    • Repairs: make all repairs and do whatever necessary to put and keep the premises in a fit and habitable condition;
    • Common Areas: keep all common areas of the premises clean and safe;
    • Maintenance: maintain in good and safe working order and condition all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators;
    • Trash: provide and maintain appropriate receptacles to remove ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste;
    • Water: supply running water and reasonable amounts of hot water at all times. Between October 1 and May 1, the landlord must also supply “reasonable heat.” For exceptions, see the statute.
    • Carbon Monoxide detector: shall install in each dwelling unit an approved carbon monoxide detector that is in good working order.
  • Tenant’s Duties: (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-321)
    • Compliance: Tenants must comply with all obligations primarily imposed upon tenants by applicable provisions of building and housing codes that materially affect health and safety;
    • Cleanliness: Keep the rental unit and any other part of the premises used by the tenant “reasonably” clean and safe, as the premises’ conditions permit. The tenant must also use the premises and its’ various rooms–bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc. –“in a reasonable manner, considering the purposes for which they were designed and intended,”
    • Trash: Dispose of all ashes, garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a manner that is clean and safe;
    • Plumbing: Keep all plumbing fixtures used by the tenant as clean as their condition permits;
    • Appliances: Use, “in a reasonable manner,” all electrical, plumbing, sanitary, heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and other facilities and appliances, including elevators, in the premises;
    • Lawful Activity: Tenants may not destroy, deface, damage, impair, or remove any part of the premises or permit any other person to do so. Tenants may not engage in, or knowingly allow another person, to engage in unlawful activity.
    • Quiet Enjoyment: Conduct oneself and require other persons on the premises with the tenant’s consent to conduct themselves in a manner, that will not disturb the tenant’s neighbors’ peaceful enjoyment of the premises; and
  • Retaliation: Landlords cannot retaliate against tenants for complaining of a lease violation, communicating with a government authority, or becoming involved with a tenant organization. (Mont. Ann. Code §§70-24-431).
  • Lead Disclosure: Landlords must disclose all known lead paint hazards. Landlords must also provide tenants, as an attachment to a written lease, with an information pamphlet on lead-based paint hazards.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No statewide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

State agencies & regulatory bodies

Housing Authorities

Realtor, and Landlord and tenant associations

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